Queensland's doctors meet to heal the medical payment system

FEELING battered and beaten, regional and rural doctors gathered in Brisbane last night hoping to find the cure for a healthier medical payment system.

The Australian Medical Association forum attracted general medical practitioners from across the state.

They gathered to discuss Medicare reforms and how the Federal Government should tackle the system's short-comings.

The forum is part of a series of AMA discussions being held across the country.

Doctors have copped a hammering lately, particularly as the Federal Government pushed for a $20 cut to the Medicare rebate for short GP consultations last month.

The cut, just one in a raft of mooted Medicare changes, was expected to save $1.3 billion over four years.

A backlash saw Health Minister Sussan Ley dump the plan as she consults with the sector about reforms.

AMA Queensland president Dr Shaun Rudd told APN Newsdesk that pressure was mounting on his colleagues.

"General practitioners are feeling a bit battered and beaten and uncared for in that if we're (the government) going to save money it's let's beat up the GPs," Dr Rudd said.

He said doctors were best placed to decide what fees they should charge patients.

"The idea is to get the views of the GPs and make sure we're all in agreement with what we feel is the way forward," he said of the forum.

"But the general view is a very simple one - there's a therapeutic relationship between the doctor and the patient and there's also a financial relationship between the doctor and the patient and that's where it should stay.

"There shouldn't be any mandate on anything.

"It should stay between the doctor and the patient because the doctor understands the circumstances of the patient and they can judge what sort of fee they should charge each individual patient."

Dr Rudd said mixed billing practices worked for a reason.

"So they (doctors) will bulk bill people who they feel can't afford to pay, they will give some people a discounted fee and then some people will be charged the full fee," he said.

"So all the time what they're doing is making sure the patient doesn't come to see them because they can't afford it."

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners wants a six-month moratorium on any Medicare changes. - APN NEWSDESK


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